Getting older or hope to? Is there an elder in your family? Things go bump in the night. Here they come, ready or not.
Kenney Hegland, a Professor of Law, at the University of Arizona and attorney Robert Fleming have created 18 free videos on elder topics and a checklist to see how prepared you are for the bumps -- below is more information about their videos.
Avoiding bad times. Vaccinations – flu and pneumonia kill, shingles make you wish it did. Don’t assume illnesses are “Just because I’m getting old” -- see a doctor. Rehab may befall your lot. Don’t make them start from zero. A daily 30 minute walk adds years and saves thousands.
Serious illness. Living Wills are dandy but better still is a Health Care Power of Attorney. Select the surrogate carefully, not necessarily your spouse, and tell them your wishes.
Avoid surgeries that cure a particular problem but leave the one that kills. Leaving the hospital make sure relatives know how to take care of you – there’re many readmissions because they mess up.
Hospice. The focus: pain management. Not just for cancer, up to six months of essentially free doctor, nurse, and counselor help. Can be at home. Denial means needless suffering
Home Care. Throw rugs cause falls, nightlights and grab rails prevent falls; chairs with arms help weak legs but water over 120 scalds.
Being a Caregiver. “In the unlikely event…” Take care of yourself first. Caregiving is demanding, stressful and exhausting. Respite care, support groups, visiting nurses, websites, and books help. Check with your local Council of Aging. Make sure your family knows how much care costs; avoid “What happened to mom’s savings?’
Driving. Okay, three things: Death, taxes, and giving up driving. Who decides? Or do you want you mom to die like your grandfather, sleeping peacefully, not like his passengers in the back seat, screaming.
Documents. Where are they and what are your passwords, hopefully not all ‘duck’.
Avoiding family fights. How much to spend on your funeral – fancy casket or a simple pillow? Who gets the Grandfather clock? (If you don’t have a Grandfather clock, not to worry, it’s a metaphor.) Good to work these things out before the Grim Reaper.
Estate planning. Wills, Trusts, Living Trusts, life insurance, life-time gifts – each has advantages and disadvantages and need to be tailored to your family needs. Don’t rely on the web and never spend thousands on a Living Trust after your free breakfast. Lawyers specializing in Elder Law, www.naela.org.
Grandkids. Trusts can tailor gifts to grandchildren and disabled relatives. Raising a grandchild? Physical custody is not legal custody; the parent can pick up the child at any time. A lawyer can help. Check with Social Security and IRS for possible financial help.
Losing it. Check for treatable causes: hearing loss, alcoholism, depression or bad drug interactions (take all the drugs, including over-the-counter, to a pharmacist to check for bad mixes). If someone is losing mental capacity, a Medical Power of Attorney and a Financial Power of Attorney will help your avoid a Guardianship which is expensive (some Legal Aid Offices offer self-help guardianship classes).
Have your family read this and talk about the elephant. It’s worth a bundle of legal documents (and a lot cheaper).
This has been a downer. Know this: studies (there’re always studies) show that elders are happier than younger folks. So take that you young jerks who cut in front of us.